“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 NLT
I have a confession to make. For most of my life, I’ve only used one version of the Bible. It’s true. Some of you may be thinking, “Cherie, that’s not much of a confession.” Well, hear me out. I stuck to just one version and dismissed all the others for all sorts of reasons, but in doing so, I think I may have handicapped my study quite a bit. You see, different versions add to the meaning of each verse that I study. Different versions paint the same verse in a different light, and I have come to find that in using different versions, I have benefited much! In fact, I experienced this very thing with the above verses today. I’ve read through the book of Romans countless times, but I never (before today) understood Romans 12:9-13 like I do now.
One of the things I love most about God is that we can’t fool Him. We can exhaust ourselves in “cleaning up” the outward appearance, but He always sees straight to the heart. Our motives are never missed by Him. So, instead of just another command to love others, the New Living Translation calls us out and says, “STOP PRETENDING!” (my paraphrase) Love must be genuine, or it’s not love at all. To really love others means that we love them as we love ourselves. How are we doing on that?
Believe me, I understand how difficult it can be to love the unlovable. Like you, I’ve been given countless opportunities in this life to love like Christ loved me, and unfortunately I’ve failed quite often in the category of loving the unlovely. But perhaps, the key to overcoming this illness of our hearts is found just below this command to “really love them” at the end of verse 12:
“…and keep on praying.”
Don’t you think Christ knew more than anyone just how difficult it would be to love those that didn’t always love Him in return? And don’t you think, then, that it was very intentional that this command to “really love” would be coupled with the command to “keep on praying”? Prayer is the love language of our Father in Heaven. Prayer keeps our hearts beating in accordance with His. Prayer unites us with Christ. Prayer can be the catalyst to overcoming a multitude of evils, even the evil of failing to “really love”.
So, let’s ask ourselves a serious question today, one that I know I need to ask myself:
“Am I just pretending?”
lori prince says
Your post touched me yesterday in a powerful way! I did not begin reading the Bible daily till I was 50, even tho I had been saved as long as I could remember. God’s ways are so far above the way we would think. Oh, truly they are so much better. I will never forget the time I sat in a HS worship service and listened as the leader spoke to the students. He asked the kids something that struck my soul in a deep way: Is it possible to grow to “pray without ceasing?” That question has never left the thoughts that linger in my innermost being. I began questioning everyone about it. How is it earthly possible to do this? It says to do it in the Bible, so we know it is God’s will for us. I prayed about it. Well, sometimes we do not know what we are asking! Through the upcoming days, weeks, months, and even into years that followed, I began to understand how an individual grows to “pray without ceasing.” God still reveals Himself to me in this area and I know for certain it is because it remains His will to us! God has placed someone on my path that will be there forever or at least until one of us takes our last breath. This gal is a tough one to love! I’m a sister who “loves on people” pretty easily and no doubt God has shown me so much through this pesky person. In my judgmental heart, I’ve wondered why people just “can’t get along!” Why people “just can’t see the good in each other and forget the rest…” And, God is showing me that even it is possible to love someone who has angered you and who has let you down and caused deep rooted pain throughout a lifetime…and ya know what?….The light: The more I have prayed to God to help me through this situation, -the more light He continues to shed. I pray to know her journey. I pray to know her heart. I pray to see her through the veil of God’s eyes. And, bit by bit, I am being led to pray for her as the Spirit leads! I know it is not “me!” For goodness sakes, it HAS to be the holy Spirit within guiding me to do this! God’s mercy, – gracing me to do this! So, you can see how your post was a ray of sunshine to me yesterday! Once again, the secret comes out in God’s holy ancient Words….“keep on praying.” The words you shared with us, – livened up that verse in a different way as you taught from your heart! The key to love from within is to “keep on praying.” I love that! I love the fresh revelation the holy Spirit gave you! If we do not do this we are hypocrites, just “pretending” as you said…living a lie of deception.
Dear Father, Pour your grace through us today and allow Jesus to teach us how to pray, – oh, how we are in dire need of Thee every hour, every day! Our desire from within is to have a growing zeal to see Your will be done. May we continue to keep on persistently praying for others and apply Your Word to those around us. We seek You with all of our heart. Swell us to fit into Your perfect plan for our lives, rather than to manipulate You, to fit into our own selfish plan. Amen.
Thank you for sharing your heart, Cherie!
Debbie Bradshaw says
Loved the comment by Lori Prince. I have learned that the people I struggle to love unconditionally are the ones that I pray for the most. It keeps my heart tender towards them and keeps me free from offense. They are God’s children too and He loves them the same as He loves us. Love you Cherie!